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American journalist Lee Fang has been doing a lot of reporting on net neutrality issues. He must be getting something right because Comcast tried to censor one of his pro net neutrality articles. Just a few days after this, he discovered that major broadband providers are paying people to leave negative comments on his other pro net neutrality articles. Manipulating publication and public opinion is just one step in their attempt to prevent strict regulation.
Censorship in American Media
Trying to have disparaging articles taken down is not a new breed of media censorship. Big companies have always tried to cover up any material that puts them in a bad light. One of the biggest issues today is the battle over net neutrality principles. Major broadband providers do not want pro net neutrality campaigners to win. This would force them out of the strategic position that they are now in. They stand to lose a lot of revenue if Internet users vote pro net neutrality and convince the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to tightly regulate them.
News agency Republic Report found out what a certain lobbying group has been up to. The group was able to convince news site NewsOne to remove a pro net neutrality article by Lee Fang. The site, an African American news website, had published a summary of the article that found fault with anti net neutrality campaigners. The parent company of the website, Radio One, ordered its removal. This company is a partner of Comcast, one of the biggest ISPs fighting to stop pro net neutrality FCC regulation. A NewsOne editor told Republic Report that corporate headquarters found the article inappropriate. Last week, Republic Report featured an article that describes the incident.
The article that was taken down reported on the ISP-funded civil liberties groups that have taken a stance against net neutrality. He emphasized that these groups wrote the FCC saying that they supported Tom Wheeler’s plan. This plan would allow these providers to create fast lanes for content providers that paid more for traffic delivery. Until now, many have stood on the pro net neutrality side of the issue, campaigning against discriminatory Internet fast lanes.
Radio One, the parent company that ordered the NewsOne article removed, partnered with Comcast for their TV One project. But the news site was also pressured by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), which has also lobbied other news organizations. Lee Fang has reported on continued MMTC support for ISPs lobbying against net neutrality. The reports highlight how the MMTC has used minority groups to promote ISP positions, most recently for ISP mergers and against net neutrality and traffic equality. MMTC has backed the position that the reclassification of broadband providers under Title II is bad for minority groups. Their vice president, Nicol Turner-Lee, also said that pro net neutrality civil rights groups are not exhibiting true leadership. The truth is of course that many civil liberties groups do support net neutrality as a positive factor for minority groups.
Pro Net Neutrality Civil Right Groups Fight Back
Several of the civil rights groups that stand for net neutrality have stood up to comment on the false claims of MMTC. The National Hispanic Media Coalition, which represents many pro net neutrality and Title II reclassification groups, reminds us that the MMTC is not the authority on who represents true civil liberties leadership.
The Center for Media Justice, which also represents other pro net neutrality groups, calls the campaign an important defense of first amendment rights. Civil liberties groups supporting corporate agendas, including Internet media censorship, puts honest journalism in peril. Pro net neutrality is an important stance in the fight against discrimination and censorship.
Free Press is bothered that a news agency’s owners and partners would censor an article for no other reason than that it reflects negatively on them. The practice of corporate censorship should never touch news agencies. These behaviors are proof that we need to push for net neutrality regulation. We need to make sure that ISPs do not gain a level of power that gives them control over media reporting. Without stronger net neutrality rules, says 18MillionRising.org, big news corporations will be even more free to smother journalists who do not support their agendas.
Lee Fang reminds us that the MMTC has been fighting against the open Internet for years. He has backed ISPs year after year so that they can continue to practice traffic and content discrimination. He has been on the forefront of campaigns to discredit net neutrality benefits. These are based on claims that it would be harmful and that additional regulation is unnecessary. But MMTC also shifts its perspective as needed to support ISPs. They now say that net neutrality is good, but only the version that allows broadband providers to practice traffic discrimination. MMTC continuously backs ISP agendas. Their claims, like net neutrality preventing Internet access and denying minorities’ jobs, are just hot air. MMTC is a propaganda machine bent on saying whatever it can to quash the pro net neutrality movement. Pro net neutrality here means regulating ISPs so they can’t discriminate against content. No net neutrality means they can censor whatever content they want.